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Abstracts, 6 April



Panel 3: The October Crisis

Ceri Morgan, Keele University

Writing the October Crisis

My earlier research demonstrates that whilst it is possible to talk of ‘The October Crisis Novel’ as a genre, there are real differences in the way the events are represented in novels written in French and English and at different time periods.  A clear set of conventions is identifiable in French-language novels on the subject produced during the 1970s.  These are characterised by a non-realist aesthetic that is very much at odds with the hyper-realism of most neo-nationalist fiction of Québec’s Quiet Revolution. Novels in English of this decade vary widely in their approach, from documentary realism (Moore, 1971) to ‘paraliterature’ (Ross, 1977). What is remarkable about this fiction is that it tends to be sympathetic to its francophone protagonists. As such, it can be said to align itself with a strand in 1960s francophone fiction that represents Montreal as a site of communication between its two majority linguistic groups, even if this is not without tension (Morgan, Mindscapes of Montreal, forthcoming). There is a good deal of variation in the October Crisis novel produced after 1980, and it is not easy to speak of a coherent body of texts beyond shared thematic concerns. The fictional treatments of the events are often at odds with memoirs produced by those involved in the Crisis, which have a consciousness-raising function (Mongeau, 1970), serve as confessionals (de Vault, 1981), or as self-styled correctives of political fact (Tetley, 2007). This paper will consider a number of October Crisis novels in French and English to consider how they contribute to a cultural memory of a key historical moment that is marked by ambivalence and controversy.

David Leahy, Université de Sherbrooke

Policing The October Crisis, Forty Years After

The proposed paper will analyse selected October Crisis related novels and films (i.e. Gérald Godin’s L'ange exterminé, Michel Basilières’ Black Bird, Michel Brault’s Les Ordres, Pierre Falardeau’s Octobre) in the light of recent revelations in a Radio-Canada two-part documentary series, Crise d’octobre: 40 ans, and current discourses about "terrorism”. The paper will consider how such examples of cultural production can be said to represent the October Crisis as a matrix-event, “a moment that reshapes [an existing] hegemony” at “structural” and “conscious levels” (Ian McKay, Rebels, Reds, Radicals: Rethinking Canada’s Left History (2005, 95); and how many of the discourses around the fortieth anniversary of the Crisis can be said to efface and/or revise the extent to which the moment and the immediate aftermath of the Crisis was also an instance of radical supersedure, a moment when people’s “understanding of the self and society, right and wrong, […] change[d] radically (105).”            

Rachel Killick

40 years on : October 2010.  Peace and (In)Security – Some Reflections from Montreal

October 2010, 40th anniversary of the October Crisis of 1970, was marked in Montreal by two CBC Radio Canada television documentaries, featuring discussion and interviews with  a number of key players in the emergency as well as contemporary and current commentators, most notably amongst the former group, Jacques Lanctôt, leader of the FLQ cell responsible for the kidnapping of the British consul James Cross. Coincidentally, the Centaur theatre, Montreal’s anglophone – or perhaps more accurately in this case – non-francophone theatre, featured Paradise by the River by Italian-born playwright Vincento Rossi, a play dealing with the Second World War internment of substantial numbers of Italian immigrants, while the big Québécois  hit of the autumn at the cinema was Incendies, film-maker Denis Villeneuve’s cinematographic rendering of Wadji Mouawad’s play of the same name, in which the Lebanese-born playwright, actor and director evokes the inhumanity of war in an unnamed country somewhere in the Middle East.  These three representations provide a interesting focus for a broader discussion of  past and current preoccupations in Quebec with social and  political unrest, both at home and abroad, and the short- or long-run significance of these concerns for the 20th and 21st century evolution of Québécois society.


Panel 4:  Institutions of Security and Insecurity:  Education, Health, Family and Policing In Post-War Canadian Contexts

Our session proposes to look at ideas about security from the perspective of Canadian citizens who were subject to notions of what it meant to feel ‘secure,’ or ‘insecure’ in post-World War Two society.  Institutions and individuals which were involved in shaping these feelings included families, schools, health-care facilities, popular media and psychologists, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  The Canadian Federal government was responsible for many of these institutions.  One of the central themes of our panel will be the extent to which these institutions which discussed and saw themselves as creating feelings of security often ironically did the exact opposite. 

J.R. Miller, University of Saskatchewan

Cultural Insecurity in ‘the Peaceable Kingdom’: First Nations and Education

For First Nations in the ‘Peaceable Kingdom,’ insecurity was a way of life. Settler economic development undermined their economies. The state attempted to eliminate their political integrity through governance initiatives of coerced change and surveillance. And a combination of the federal state and Christian churches attacked their cultural identities.

The quintessential mechanism for destabilizing First Nations economically, politically, and culturally was education. State-supported and church-run schooling in general – and residential schools in particular – systematically opposed indigenous language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs and ceremonies. In theory, the vanquished indigenous cultural traits would be replaced by supposedly superior EuroCanadian beliefs, institutions, and practices. The programme never worked as envisaged by state and church social engineers. First Nations were left with culturally insecure young adults who grew up to form troubled, often dysfunctional families and communities.

These malignant policies did their destructive work for over a century, thanks mainly to two factors. First, the Department of Indian Affairs carried out a well-crafted public relations campaign that presented its policies and their effects in a falsely positive light. Second, since the federal government recruited the churches to carry out these social policies, Christian Canada largely became complicit in the process. Unlike the United States, where similar schooling policies provoked non-Native opposition centred at first in the churches, Canada did not confront major opposition until First Nations political organizations emerged by the mid-twentieth century.  The apparent peace in state-Aboriginal relations masked a steadily deteriorating, horrifically damaging process.

Thanks in part to state educational policy, cultural insecurity was a way of life for First Nations in ‘the Peaceable Kingdom.’                                      

Myra Rutherdale, York University

Health Care For the North:  The Canadian Federal Government, The Patients and Feelings of Insecurity, 1945-1970

One might assume that a new Federally funded health care system for Northern Canadian Aboriginal people would provide a feeling of security and well-being.  According to the Indian and Northern Health Services Branch bureaucrats this was part of the purpose of such a program.  The notion that the government was fulfilling its obligations to Aboriginal Canadians motivated the Federal government’s initiative in 1945.  So too did questions of  Canadian sovereignty over the North.  American soldiers on Arctic patrol during the war consistently complained about the poor health of Aboriginal Canadians.  But, also true was the fact that in setting up such a program, governmental officials could claim feelings of benevolence for their work in the north.

In at least three areas, the establishment of nursing stations and the increased presence of southern doctors led ironically to feelings of insecurity rather than security.  First, northern Aboriginal people were often encouraged to give up their traditional medicine makers and their use of traditional medicine.   While many people ignored the admonitions from outsiders, some felt like they had to hide the fact that they continued to consult with their own people, or use their own locally-based remedies.  Only recently have Elders felt enough confidence to be able to talk about their own curatives and record details about their usage in oral narratives.

Secondly, women’s birthing experiences underwent a considerable change with the introduction of western medicine in the north.  Women often felt insecure because of the difference between being able to access traditional midwives and birthing in nursing stations, or even worse, being forced to be evacuated to a larger community to deliver in a hospital setting.  At times some women felt so insecure about what would happen to them that they chose to conceal their pregnancies rather than to discuss them at the nursing stations.

Quite closely related to my second argument is the third which contends that often residents of northern communities were apprehensive about revealing their medical conditions since they were frequently terrified of being evacuated from their communities due to tuberculosis. 

The fear and sense of insecurity caused by what the Federal government would insist was meant to be a helpful and benevolent program became as institutionalized as the nursing stations and small hospitals that operated across the north after 1945.

Robert Rutherdale

Growing up to Become Fathers after World War Two: A Generational Approach to Family Men’s Drive for Security as Providers from the Great Depression to the Baby Boom Era

This paper examines ‘the family’ as an institution and ‘fatherhood’ as a category of masculine histories in the first decade after 1945 under the rubric of ‘security,’ a central organizing concept for fatherhood/family history throughout the postwar reconstruction period.  Across the social classes and within the increasing ethnic diversities in postwar Canada, most young father’s ‘drive for security’ provided a primary motive for their lives at this point as providers, marital partners, and parents.  To state, as Doug Owram has in reference to the parents, wives/mothers and husbands/fathers of the baby boomers, that as a generation they had ‘never’ really known economic and after 1939 military ‘security’ sets up a useful key question:  how did fathers who grew up during the Depression years not only pursue their paths toward self-sufficiency, how did they construe their personal searches for security in the postwar economic order to support their new families?  Specifically, through this paper’s analysis of oral histories and life writing, how did fathers in English-speaking Canada perceive their individual paths to security and self-sufficiency as providers and as male parents?  At the same time, all men, it was said by journalists and sociologists alike, increasingly suffered in the postwar world as newly emasculated beings.  Their search for security, as men, meant coming to terms with the loss for their generation of a traditional, authentic masculinity:  a ‘crisis’ of masculinity, especially for fathers who found themselves chewed up by the demands of industrial capitalism both at work and at home in the new suburbs.  Had fathers become less secure, as men, or more so?  This paper will consider how father’s paths to self-sufficiency, shaped profoundly by a drive for security, increased rather than inhibited their masculine power within the gendered family regime of the period.

Marcel Martel, York University

"They are a security risk”: RCMP undercover operations in the Sixties

In the Sixties, the RCMP broadened the scope of their surveillance operations by collecting information on hippies, university students, Native activists, African-Canadians, and French-speaking organizations. My paper is part of a research project that looks at why the RCMP conducted surveillance operations. It pays attention to how the information on these various individuals and groups was assembled and analyzed the various strategies used when the RCMP put together its narrative. In fact, these operations allowed the RCMP to update its narrative by demonstrating that deviance and dissent were confined to specific groups. It sought to produce evidence that would reinforce the fears of those who were uneasy and anxious about the counterculture movement, native activism,  the French Canadian nationalist movement and official bilingualism.

My paper will look at two particular types of operations: those conducted among French-Canadian minority groups outside of Quebec and groups that opposed official bilingualism. The RCMP paid attention to these groups in order to assess their security risks, their ability to trigger social chaos, their willingness to resort to violence in order to promote their agenda, and the likelihood that foreign spies infiltrated these groups, but in particular French-Canadian minority groups outside of Quebec, and were able to take their control and pose a national threat.

By looking at these specific RCMP undercover operations, we can analyze how the state responded to the counterculture movement and other social realities of the Sixties. In part, this will contribute to the growing literature on how the state dealt with these issues and how repression was part of the strategy designed by the state apparatus.


Literature 6

Catherine Bates, University of Leeds

‘I was standing still when I fell off my feet’: The Peaceful Insecurity of Robert Kroetsch’s Too Bad

Robert Kroetsch’s 2010 poetry collection Too Bad: Sketches Towards a Self-Portrait begins with a disclaimer: ‘This book is not an autobiography. It is a gesture toward a self-portrait, which I take to be quite a different kettle of fish.’ Lyric poetry collection-as-kettle of fish encapsulates Kroetsch’s playful paralipsic approach to genre, which seem to follow this instruction: provide a generic frame which makes clear that it is not a generic frame. Kroetsch has long been fascinated with but worried by notions of the ‘self’ and its narrative; he has a habit of focusing in on the notion of ‘autobiography’ in particular. In What the Crow Said, Liebhaber tries and fails to write a three letter autobiography, while in The Puppeteer, Maggie Wilder tries to write the autobiography of her wedding dress, concluding that ‘perhaps….every autobiography is a decoy.’ In A Likely Story, Kroetsch quotes his own poetic alter-ego, Rita K, in the epigraph arguing ‘This is (not) an autobiography.’; in the later work The Hornbooks of Rita K, a Robert Kroetsch appears in a cameo role, a spectre at his own non-autobiography.

I would suggest that this most recent refusal to write autobiography, together with the insistence on reminding his readers of its ubiquity (in his mind as well as in those of his readers), shows a writer who is less anxious about fixed notions of the self, and more gleeful about the opportunity these give him to think through the insecurities inherent in performed, produced and re-read human identity. Too Bad is full of half finished stories, ‘plain lies’, irreverent references to Greek mythology, self-consciously clichéd and botched attempts to figure the self and unanswered, insistent questions. Kroetsch’s insistent insecurity, about literary form, about self, about the weather, comes from an acknowledgement that however much we have deconstructed the notion of self, there is still a need for story: ‘This is a plain lie. Please read on.’; there is still a need for poetry: ‘I bet my life on a poem.’; there is still a (vain) attraction to  the symbolic: ‘In a dream last night he forgot/to shovel the walk for the postman./What message is he expecting?’

This paper will consider the insecurity of Kroetsch’s kettle of fish, by celebrating its insistence upon the difference of the human, the significance of the everyday, and the necessary dysfunctionality of a poetry which cannot be assessed through a narrative of impact and productivity but asks to be responded to with a happy sense of risk; ‘Step into the flowerbed. Paint that museum wall […] Risk it, dear reader […] Celebrate today’s pizza as a work of art.’

Malgorzata Camastra, University of Nottingham

Romeo and Juliet or Beauty and the Beast?” Displacement and Unstable Identities in Carol Shields’s The Republic of Love

In my paper I will take on this year’s theme of “Peace and (In)Security” referring to Carol Shields’s 1992 novel The Republic of Love. It is a postmodern variation on a popular romance genre embracing  fairy tales and myths about mermaids. All these elements combined create a multidimensional novelistic space in which “anything can happen”. The two protagonists, Tom Avery (a forty-year old radio host and three-times divorcee) and Fay MacLeod  (a thirty-five year old single folklorist researching mermaids), are placed in multiple contexts – some more realistic and some more –  imaginary, and thus their characterization is so dynamic. First of all, they are the lovers of this unconventional romance but they are often described as seeing themselves as participants in a fairy tale. The reader is left with the impression that they are both “mer-people” captured in their “mer-condition” identified in the text as “solitary longing that is always being thwarted. No, not thwarted – denied.” The mer-condition in a way is responsible  for a certain paradox in the text which seems to be a romance without a love story. Shields plays with the convention of unconditional love, love at first sight and the idea of only one “Mr Right” which is fundamental to a romance genre. In such a “game” the protagonists instantly become unreliable as romantic lovers. This aspect of the novel opens up a field of possible new interpretations of Shields’s female and male characters. The underlying romance/fairy tale/myth strands support my claim that Tom and Fay are perfect examples of unstable and flexible identities. I will also show how the fragmented and displaced presentation of the protagonists, their “own” double vision, and the proposition that they see themselves as usurpers of different roles reflects fundamental postmodern worries.

Krystyna Martynska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

A Poetics of Instability – Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill

The aim of this paper is to focus on two closely related levels of instability in Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill – the former is connected to identity, the latter is linked with genre. First and foremost, in his autobiographical text Wah strives to deal with his multiethnic background – with his father having Chinese and Irish roots and his mother being Swedish, Wah feels that he is not “pure”. This peculiar lack of purity allows Wah to (re)invent his identity over and over again, up to such a point at which it is no longer certain where the borderline between fact and fiction lies. Indeed, Wah commenting on his instable racial status, calls identity building “[s]tuttered inventive invective process. The domain of this track is an ordered fiction, a serious intervention” (Wah 1996: 36).

Simultaneously, the idea of instability pertains to the area of genre. In the acknowledgement to Diamond Grill Wah calls this work a biotext. As Joanne Saul elucidates, it becomes a strategy of the articulation of the self in the process of writing and “captures the tension between the WHAT and the HOW of the texts” (2002: 4). What is central, however, to understanding of the text is that biotext is a “hedge against (...) readymade generic expectations” (Wah 2000: 97). As a consequence in Diamond Grill the boundaries between poetry and prose, biography and autobiography, fiction and theory are blurred. Only by employing a poetics of instability is Wah capable of exploring the multiple biopaths of himself and his family, composing in this way a dense autobiography and, at the same time, a poetic manifesto.


Economics/Social Policy

Wayne A. Hunt, Mount Allison University

The Geopolitics Of Creativity – Analysing The Influence Of A Canada-Based Thinker, Richard Florida, On Britain’s Decision To Create A Silicon Valley-Style Innovation Hub In East London

Governments that pride themselves on their pragmatism still find it necessary to find a big theme to guide their actions.  So wrote the Economist (“Bring me sunshine,” 11 November, 2010).  The London periodical noted that Richard Florida, of the “Creative Class” fame, had become the British “government’s philosopher.” Florida, who now resides in Canada and who works in the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, was chosen for the unofficial role of court philosopher for the Conservative Lib/Dem coalition in the UK.  Technology, Tolerance (as in being open to diversity and alternative lifestyles – read: gay lifestyles) and Talent – the three “Ts” -- were at the heart of Florida’s policy prescriptions for redeveloping core, inner city areas.  Florida described himself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal – a distinction which chimes with Cameron’s enthusiasm for what he calls a “Big Society.”

Missing from Florida’s analysis however, was one crucial element:  geopolitical change.  Innovation and creativity are no longer broadly viewed as the exclusive domain of developed economies.  In recent years, a growing gap has appeared.  On the one side are developed societies which are weighed down by debt at both the personal and governmental level; on the other side, by contrast, are developing economies which hold a great deal of that debt and which produce most of the growth.  The situation in the United States is particularly dire.  The decision by the Obama administration to continue its stimulus spending has left that country economically isolated among the G20 nations.  As a consequence, UK politicians like David Cameron must look beyond Silicon Valley to find the kind of idea-networks that will serve as an example of the type of development that he wants to encourage. 

Small digital start-ups and social networking sites are the defining features of this development.  But in order to make this happen, you have to re-examine the role of the state.  Governments of mid-sized nations such as Canada and the UK want to create regulatory regimes that encourage the type of innovation which comes from technological advances.  In practice, this means reviewing legislation about intellectual property rights and welcoming entrepreneurs through changes in immigration policy.  The “war on terror” shut many doors to creative individuals who wanted to move to the United States.  At the same time, China and India began to develop their own “creative clusters” which encouraged their brightest and best to return to their homelands.   As a consequence, “creative cities” outside of the United States have begun to prosper.  Toronto has been one such city. London, another.

 This paper examines the impact of Richard Florida’s ideas on politics in both Canada and in the UK and shows how public decision-makers in both countries are more aware of the changing place of their leading cities in the world.

Justin Leifso, University of Alberta

The New West Partnership and Canadian Regionalism

This paper examines the impact of a new development in Canadian and North American regionalism. The New West Partnership (NWP), which took effect in April 2010, encompasses the three westernmost Canadian provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.  Though similar to its predecessor, the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), the NWP goes beyond interprovincial cooperation and creates a region within the global economy through mechanisms such as international marketing.  At the same time, however, it relies heavily on traditional language associated with Canadian regionalism, celebrating the rise of the “New West” as a result of a shift in Canadian economic power to the western-most provinces.  Such a regional agreement presents a challenge for the study of Canadian regions.  Examinations of Canadian regionalism have historically observed regions only within the context of the territorial boundaries of the Canadian state.  However, the NWP makes clear that its goal is economic prosperity and security within a global space.  This paper recounts the convergence of neoliberal policies of the three provinces that led to the agreement, explains how it differs from previous interprovincial trade agreements, and assesses how it symbolizes a challenge to the traditional understanding of regions as they relate to the Canadian state.

Rachel Danemann, South Hams District Council

Community Land Trusts in Canada

The presentation outlines the findings of research visits to Winnipeg and Vancouver to investigate the Canadian CLT and co-operative housing movements.  It considers what lessons have been learnt from the successes and failures of various community housing projects and what these could offer to groups in the UK wanting to deliver CLTs in the spirit of the new Localism Policies. 

The research was supported with funding from BACS and the Royal Town Planning Institute.




Karen Fricker, Royal Holloway, University of London

Making Theatre Global: Robert Lepage and the Problem of ‘Universality’

The career of Québec theatre artist Robert Lepage offers a compelling test case through which to explore the globalization of cultural practices today. Among the many techniques and strategies Lepage employs in order to allow his work to appeal across cultures are frequent appeals to what he (and some commentators) calls ‘universal’ meanings and references. In an Anglo-American academic context, such terminology is instantly problematic, because the prevalent view in late 20th century Anglophone thought is that any attempt to name or make reference to a universal is a gesture of power.

There are moves afoot, however, in many areas of contemporary critical thought to reshape the concept of the universal into something new and ‘politically forceful’, by shearing from it the ‘dead weight of essentialism’. The key gesture that unites the work of Ernesto Laclau, Judith Butler, and Alain Badiou in this area is the re-conception of the universal not as a set of eternal, unchanging truths and ideals, but rather as a process, something always under construction and always out of reach, but which motivates individuals and groups to work towards positive change. This rethinking of universality is echoed in the work of theatre scholars such as Jill Dolan and Erin Hurley, who are placing renewed emphasis on the utopic, affective power of theatrical performances to bring spectators to new awareness of their place in the world and their possible ability to effect positive change upon it.

In this paper I analyse various aspects of Lepage’s theatre for the ways in which it attempts to communicate or appeal universally. At its best, I argue, Lepage’s theatre becomes a crucial site in contemporary culture, a place to rehearse the risky but necessary business of engagement with the world beyond our own experience.

Alex Ramon, University of Reading/Kingston University 

“It’s no Eden … /But it’s home sweet home to me”: Conflict, Community and “Decoding the Signs of the City” - Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2007)

Variously described as a “docu-fantasia,” a “psychobiography,” a “travelogue,” an “essay film” and “a love letter written in bile,” Guy Maddin’s 2007 feature My Winnipeg offers a highly idiosyncratic portrait of the director’s hometown. Presented through Maddin’s characteristic appropriation of silent-era film techniques - monochrome cinematography, degraded film stock and inter-titles, along with archive footage, dynamic voiceover narration and B-movie parody - My Winnipeg subverts the facticity of the documentary by overtly incorporating fabrication, speculation and fantasy into its account, presenting the city as at once mysterious and mundane, banal and baroque, queer and quotidian. “I am making it my mission to mythologize the place,” Maddin has claimed. “Every other country in the world gives their folk heroes a bigger than life treatment. For some reason, Canadians look through the wrong end of the telescope and make them smaller than life. I just thought that if no one [else] was going to make a myth about Winnipeg … I would do it myself.”  

This paper seeks to explore the implications of Maddin’s “mythologizing” of Winnipeg. Drawing on texts such as Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space (1974) and Edward W. Soja’s Postmetropolis (2000) the paper explores the film’s presentation of the city as a complex, multi-dimensional space, a place of “palimpsests, of skins, of skins beneath skins.” Drawing attention to the city’s conflicts and tensions, and, in particular, to the hidden spaces inhabited by its (contemporary and historical) dispossessed, Maddin’s film, I argue, disrupts and deconstructs the official narrative of Winnipeg, ultimately broadening into a wider interrogation of the contemporary realities and cultural myths of “the peaceable kingdom.”


Literature 7

Marianne Beauvilain, Mount Royal University

Breaking Silences: Using Fiction to Tell Stories that Cannot be Told

In 1982, the University of Ottawa Press published a collection of short stories entitled The Race and Other Short Stories by Sinclair Ross.  The last story in the collection, “The Flowers That Killed Him, has an innocent-sounding title that belies the anguish it describes.  For that reason, or, more likely, because it describes a horror that could not be talked about at the time, it received very little critical attention when it was published.  In 2009, on the other hand, when Linden MacIntyre was awarded the Giller Prize for The Bishop’s Man, there had already been a great deal of disclosure in the press about child abuse associated with the Roman Catholic Church, and it was easy to surmise the theme of the book and to talk about it.  

In neither story do we learn any of the specific details about the abuse suffered by the young boys in question.  Both authors place tell their stories from the vantage point of a witness who is not present when the abuse occurs, but who, little by little, discover what has happened, and in the end make a conscious decision about how to deal with that knowledge.

Although Linden MacIntyre is a broadcast journalist, The Bishop’s Man, is a work of fiction, as is “The Flowers That Killed Him”.  In this paper, I will analyze some of the literary techniques used by both Ross and MacIntyre.  Both men have, for example, firmly planted their stories in Canadian landscapes, albeit very different ones.  Both expose the reader to the facts by peeling away layers, like an onionskin.  In the end, both have given a powerful voice to young men who are unable to give their own account. 

Robyn Morris, University of Wollongong

The writer as cultural critic

This paper uses as its base, a case study of a media-induced cultural anxiety surrounding the  “Writing thru Race” Conference held in Vancouver in 1994.  It examines the construction of race as anti-nation and as anti-white within media reports; a flexing of media power which resulted in a government grant of $22,500 being revoked just weeks before the conference start date. Larissa Lai, one of the ‘Writing thru Race organisers, notes in a report on the conference, that this backlash was “a massive and dangerous shift to the right [it] was not really a controversy at all but a gun at our heads saying: move over” (Lai 1995 17).

This paper will explore the role of Asian Canadian writers as cultural critics as it emerges in their own fictional and increasingly non-fictional output. These writers look back at the way in which whiteness is constructed as normality in historical, cultural and political discourse.  Their work, I argue, is deliberately confronting; for their critical glance back issues a challenge based on questioning the dominance and power that has historically been accorded to the white gaze in Canada.


Security 5

Irene Spigno, University of Siena

Hate propaganda: a threat to Canada internal peace and stability

The clash between freedom of expression and hate propaganda (meaning all those messages conveying prejudice and discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age etc.) represents a hard challenge for contemporary democratic societies. Hate and racist messages are able to put fundamental values, such as equality, human dignity and multiculturalism into danger. Indeed, the Canadian Supreme Court has refused the U.S. approach to hate speech regulation in an explicit way, stressing the Canadian Constitution‘s commitment to multicultural diversity, group identity, human dignity and equality (see 1990 R. v. Keegstra Canadian Supreme Court decision). For these reasons, in its hate propaganda decisions, Canadian courts have adopted a nuanced approach in order to balance these values with freedom of expression. In particular, in R. v. Keegstra the Court stated that hate propaganda, even if constituting a limitation to freedom of expression, did not warrant constitutional protection because it is more against the mutual respect among diverse racial, religious and cultural groups than to promote a genuine expression or value. Great attention is paid by the Supreme Court to a collective protection of social values and to the preservation of internal peace and stability among different sections of the population. The position held by Canadian jurisprudence is sit in sharp contrast with the U.S approach which has given prevalence to a liberal perspective: on the contrary the Canadian protection against hate propaganda aims to guarantee the collective point of view highlighting fundamental principles, such as honor and dignity of the human being, considered as individual as well as in a group.

Asa McKercher, Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Seeking ‘Peace, Order and Good Government’?  Canadian Policy towards British Guiana, 1961-66

From the moment it became a self-governing colony in 1961 to its formal independence in 1966, British Guiana was wracked by racial violence, labour unrest, civil disorder and political chaos.  For Canadian foreign policymakers, this situation presented a problem.  On the one hand, Canadians wanted to help steer the small South American country towards a secure, prosperous future, and the Guianese government certainly solicited Canada’s help in this regard.  On the other hand, Ottawa shared London and Washington’s concerns about British Guiana’s socialist governing party, and there was a fear in Canada that its economic interests were under threat.  As contemporary Canadians like to think of themselves as citizens of a ‘peaceable kingdom’, the country’s past record in dealing with British Guiana presents an interesting look at how past Canadian politicians and diplomats dealt with a newly decolonising country at the height of the Cold War.

Using archival records from Canada, the United States and Great Britain, I will explore how Canadian officials viewed and responded to insecurity in British Guiana.  That country’s proximity to Britain’s newly independent colonies in the West Indies worried John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson, two Canadian prime ministers who took an interest in expanding Canada’s presence in the Caribbean.  How did these two premiers and their diplomatic advisors view the instability and conflict that paralysed British Guiana?  What did they perceive to be Canada’s role?  Was it to shepherd the colony towards its independence as a secure and prosperous state?  Or was it to protect both Canadian economic interests and the security of the region?  As the history of Canadian foreign policy seldom focuses beyond Canada’s relations with the United States or Great Britain, this paper will explore whether Canadian policy towards British Guiana is suggestive of how Ottawa dealt with insecurity in the ‘Third World’ during the Cold War.



Penelopi Alexandrou, Kingston University London

The (in)Security of Identity in a Small(er) Urban Setting: The Greek and Greek Canadian Women of Halifax, NS

“How physical environment impacts on people’s thinking and behaviour is a much neglected foci of social science research…” (Frideres, 2006, p. 3)

Halifax, Nova Scotia maintains a disputed status of second- (McIsaac, 2003) or third- tier (Frideres, 2006, p. 5) city in Canada with attributes that could classify the city as either. From 1924 until its closure in 1971, Pier 21 in Halifax, served as one of the four entry points into Canada from the east and was a gateway for over one million migrants into Canada (Duivenvoorden Mitic & LeBlanc, 1988).  Its migrant population nevertheless has always reflected that of Maritime Canada and other second- and third-tier Canadian cities (range between 0.3 to 0.5 percent of the total immigrant population in Canada from before) (Canada, 2005).

The Greek community of Halifax was established early in the twentieth century but maintained relatively small numbers in comparison to the historically more attractive immigrant destinations of the large urban centres such as Toronto and Montreal. 

While factors such as lower immigrant unemployment and higher average income values in second- and third- tier cities may contribute to recent immigrants showing an increasing interest in second- and third- tier cities as their first choice of residence (Canada, 2005), the construction and maintenance of a hyphenated or ethnic identity in cities that ‘lack options of identification’ (Byers & Tastsoglou, 2008, p. 27)may vary from ethnic communities of major urban centres.

This paper will discuss experiences of Greek migrant and Greek Canadian women residing in Halifax with respect to identity maintenance.  Does residing in a smaller urban centre where a smaller Greek community reside impose more pressure on the maintenance of an ethnic identity?  How can a small community continue to thrive in a largely homogeneous population and how do new immigrants’ experiences vary from the past 

Marie Hammond-Callaghan, Mount Allison University

Gender and Peace Politics in the Cold War:  RCMP Surveillance of the Voice of Women, Canada in the 1960s

This paper will examine the cold war experience of the Voice of Women (VOW), Canada , an organization founded in 1960 from a mass movement of middle-class housewives and mothers seeking to end the threat of nuclear war.  Laying claim to ‘global motherhood,’ VOW reached a national membership of 6,000 in their first year.  As the 1960s unfolded, VOW embarked on a series of national and international campaigns, challenging Canadian foreign policy and reaching out to their ‘sisters’ in enemy nations.

An examination of archival records reveals that VOW’s attempts to influence public opinion and Canadian politicians on matters of peace and security made them a target of state surveillance and media ridicule.  Indeed, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as officials within External Affairs and the Department of National Defence, routinely viewed VOW’s activities as either communist- influenced or dangerously naïve and vulnerable. Drawing upon select VOW and RCMP records of the 1960s, this paper examines the nature of VOW’s subversive character, as well as the extent to which VOW was perceived as a potential security threat, as constructed through RCMP files on the organization in the 1960s.  This paper also explores how VOW’s re-envisioning of peace and security contested deeply embedded gender and political orders.


Aboriginal Studies 2

Alfred Wong, Friends of Aboriginal Health

Socio-economic aspects of corruption in aboriginal communities

Corruption in governance of aboriginal communities in Canada has been reported widely to be endemic. An analysis of the underlying causes of apparent corruption in aboriginal community governments indicated that economic deprivation is a factor of importance. The economic deprivation is a result of centuries of federal government policies which had included the arbitrary seizure of land and abrogation of human rights. The social order and economic structure of aboriginal communities had essentially been destroyed to leave the people with no independent means of sustenance.

Low Human Development Index (HDI) embodying health, education and income, correlates well to high Corruption Perception Index. The socio-economic status of aboriginal communities appeared to be similar to countries with low HDI such as Gambia and Senegal. Unlike the situation in industrially developed countries (i.e., those with high HDIs), corruption is driven in many instances by economic deprivation in low HDI countries. Thus, no amount of training and education in governance in public administration could resolve this problem without addressing the basic needs of the people first.

At the present funding-limited rate to improve the HDI in aboriginal communities, it would be at least 2020 before aboriginals would reach the same level of human development as Canadians at- large in 2008. Substantial increase in funding to aboriginal communities by the Federal government is a practicable starting means to rectify economic deprivation and reduce corruption concomitantly.

Alfred Wong and Gerald Amos, Friends of Aboriginal Health

Housing in aboriginal communities – a new beginning from failed past policies

The Human Development Index of the aboriginal people is generally recognized to be substantially below that of Canadians at large. Poverty, alcohol and drug addiction, domestic violence, suicide and other social ills suffered by the aboriginal people are the manifestations of centuries of willful cultural destruction by the government and its agents. The defeated people are left without any means of sustenance, hope and tradition.

The housing situation in many aboriginal communities is appalling. Canada is commonly rated to be one of the richest nations in the World. Over-crowding is a very common occurrence. People are essentially forced to live in on-reserve houses which are poorly designed and constructed in southern urban Canada, with little or no considerations of the cultural, social, economic and environmental needs of the people. Some of the specific deficiencies of the sub-standard houses include a) unhealthy quality of interior air, b) inadequate energy efficiency, and c) poor functionality of the exterior and interior design which does not render ease of maintenance. The people themselves are often blamed for these shortcomings. But the frustrated people have no resources to undertake any essential repairs to these poorly designed and constructed houses. Bank financing of home ownership in aboriginal communities as a panacea makes no sense whatsoever because the people have no regularly-paid employment through most of their adult years. Under the bank-financed home ownership scheme, the people will merely be burdened with new debt, while the government guarantees banking profits.

Past government policies and programs to redress the persistent housing problem have largely failed because the acute lack of an integrated systems approach. The people must have meaningful employment to be fully engaged in improving their own living standards significantly in real time in their own communities. Dictatorial control of the federal government will continue hinder any initiatives to improve the housing situation in aboriginal communities. The outlook for improvements is not good.

A novel approach is needed to deploy local natural resources to concurrently a) create meaningful enduring employment, b) generate renewable energy for community uses, and c) improve housing and other basic necessity of life, for the people.



Literature 8

Heather Latimer, University of Manchester

Reproduction, Citizenship and Technoscience in Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl

This paper addresses the conference themes through an examination of how Larissa Lai’s novel, Salt Fish Girl (2002), interrogates the historical legacies, contemporary realities and cultural myths of Canada.  Set in a dystopic and futuristic Pacific Northwest where clones, made from the DNA of Japanese-Canadians interned during WWII, are manufactured to work as disposable labour, Lai’s text connects the past and the future through its focus on national and corporate agendas regarding reproduction and citizenship. I argue that through removing reproduction from a national setting and putting it into one where reproductive policy is governed by the logic of capital, Lai’s text uses current rhetoric on (reproductive) bodies, identity, and citizenship to expose the ways in which State interests and markets are often complicit in naturalizing the demarcation of borders. Her novel can therefore be read as a critique of the ways the State and the market decide which bodies and people are to be valued and protected.

Hannah McGregor, University of Guelph

“Do You Think Of What Is Happening There?”: Gender, Race, and the Politics of Empathy in Kim Echlin’s The Disappeared

Kim Echlin’s popular 2009 novel The Disappeared is the first-person narrative of Anne Greves, a white Montreal woman engaged in a decades-long love affair with a Cambodian man that eventually takes her to Phnom Penh in the wake of the 1975-79 genocide. Reviews of the novel suggest literature’s function as a form of witnessing global atrocities, with one reviewer explicitly describing the text as an antidote for the ongoing failure of the UN war crimes tribunal in Cambodia (Moher n.p.). The novel, written as a second-person address to the missing lover, directly implicates the reader and arguably demands an empathetic response. By engaging with both the novel and responses to it, this paper proposes to explore empathy as a gendered and racialized discourse that implicitly conflates the act of reading with ethics by constructing the reader as a vicarious witness.

Martha Nussbaum has argued that empathetic identification on the part of the reader is central to the ethical function of literature (7). Sherene Razack, however, warns about “the slipperiness of empathy” as a discourse that uses the suffering of racialized subjects to establish the reader’s moral authority and to erase his or her complicity with the violence being represented (376). To this debate I am interested in adding the gendered narrative of The Disappeared, in which the reader is invited to empathize with the victims of the Cambodian genocide via the gendered tragedy of Anne herself: the loss of her lover and her baby in a foreign land from which she is subsequently banned. If, as Razack argues, Canada is characterized by its consumption of the pain of others to confirm its own status as “a compassionate middle power” (376), how is this consumption, along with the troubled politics of empathy, complicated by the particular vulnerabilities and complicities of the white woman as representing subject?


Panel 5: US-Canada security relations: a strategic reading from Mexico

M. Teresa Gutiérrez-Haces, National Autonomus University of Mexico (UNAM)

National Security and Foreign Direct Investment in Canada

Large amounts of Chinese investment abroad is intended to promote projects to exploit natural resources, particularly mineral. According to information published by the Chinese Economic Studies, it is estimated that more than 15 minerals used to support the economic development of China have a growing deficit by 2020. Because of this, it is estimated that China will be a net importer of natural resources and raw materials in the medium term.

Although China's investment has shown a clear preference for developing countries, the main criterion is not country, nor the facilities offered by a particular government, but the supply of natural resources and raw materials.

The possibility of China becoming a major source of investment in North America has been received with a mixture of excitement and suspicion. In particular, Canada and the U.S. have expressed concern over the possible loss of control over their natural resources and fear to give up its technology to a potential military competitor.

Starting in 2004 has been developing a strong lobbying to change the law on foreign investment in Canada. On February 6, 2009, Bill C-10 was received at the Parliament of Canada and then added the part IV of the Canadian Investment Act, entitled Investment injurious to National Security, which gives the government the right to review any type of investment that could threaten the national security of Canada.

This paper will analyze the various reactions of the federal and provincial government and Canadian companies, about the exploitation of natural resources by foreign investment and the reconceptualization of the concept of national security.

Salvador Cervantes, Universidad del Valle de Atemajac

Smart Border Programs: perspective between Mexico, United States and Canada

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, the United States has increased heavily its securities in its port of entries.  With its northern neighbor, Canada, three months later after the attacks, the U.S. signed a ‘Smart Border Declaration’, in order to continually improve border security, information-sharing and law enforcement co-operation between the two nations. In the case of Mexico, it was in March 2002 when a 22 point agreement was signed, acknowledging the need to employ new technologies and constructively engage the private sector in the interest of achieving a secure and efficient border. Every day there are around 800,000 crossings between the United States and Mexico, making it the busiest border in the world. From California to Texas, Mexico and the United States share 3,138 km of border line, where a great amount of goods and people – legal and illegal- pass through; economic development of the border region depends largely on these crossings.  Even though, security in the southern border has increased greatly over the past ten years, as the number of crossings continue to increase, so security risks and issues. Mexico and the United States understand the importance of the legal crossings, especially the ones related with trade and investments, thus, in order to make the border safer, diminish the illegal crossings and make it easier for the legal crossings, both countries have implemented a series of programs, the latest one being the agreement signed by Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano and Mexico’s Interior Secretary, Jose Francisco Blake Mora, regarding the development of a ‘Global Entry International Trusted Traveler Program’. This paper will analyze and evaluate the smart border programs between Mexico, United States and Canada, focusing on their implementation and effects in the commercial results. Emphasizing on two topics: how the Canadian Experience can help the Mexican experience and also on how the new Global Entry program adequate to the 22 point smart border agreement and the countries security needs.


Quebec Studies

Anne-Marie Fortier, Université Laval

« Chroniques de la Nouvelle-France » d’André Roche. L’après-guerre comme recommencement du monde

Quand André Roche, jeune français diplômé de Sciences politiques et jusque-là secrétaire du Ministre Guy Mollet, vient au Canada vers 1948, il travaille d’abord pour l’éditeur Pierre Tisseyre et il écrit des chroniques dans la Revue de la pensée française publiée à New York. Ces chroniques, qui nous intéresseront ici, sont intitulées « Chroniques de la Nouvelle France » et décrivent la vie culturelle du Québec (Roche s’est installé à Montréal) du point de vue français, c’est-à-dire le regard de qui, ayant quitté l’abondance et la vie dynamique – et les querelles de l’après-guerre français, retourne aux débuts du monde, observe le recommencement du monde et l’installation d’une vie culturelle.

Ces textes, à destination de la France, envisagent à la fois les productions françaises en tournée à Montréal et au Québec et les productions du Canada français, au tout début de ce qui deviendra, 10 ans plus tard, une véritable effervescence artistique et politique. Le point de vue de  Roche est complexe : depuis Montréal, la valeur et le sens dont sont porteuses les productions françaises changent. De même, l’œil que porte Roche sur l’établissement (et le bouillonnement) des structures culturelles dans le Canada de l’immédiat après-guerre est tout ensemble « paternel » et neuf.

Nous nous intéresserons donc au regard de Roche qui ayant quitté les décombres de la Seconde Guerre pour le matin du monde et sa paix, réévalue et redessine les valeurs et le sens dont l’art et la littérature sont responsables, de part et d’autre de l’Atlantique. Dans cet examen, nous devrons bien évidemment examiner également le lieu même de publication (une revue à destination de la France publiée au Nouveau Monde).

Ce projet s’inscrit dans un nouveau domaine de recherche pour moi, qui examine l’immédiat après-guerre et les figures conjuguées de Roche et d’Éloi de Grandmont (au même moment, de Grandmont, diplômé des Arts graphiques, partira à l’École du Louvre) : le tandem, qui œuvre dans les coulisses du monde artistique, théâtrale, éditorial et journalistique du Montréal des années 1950 jette un regard critique mais construit sur le Canada français et contribue à l’éveil des consciences. Car petit à petit André Roche cessera d’écrire à destination de la France pour investir bientôt les journaux québécois (Le petit journal); il va aussi écrire pour la radio de Radio-Canada en collaboration avec Éloi de Grandmont et Fernand Séguin (Carte Blanche), fonder une maison d’éditions (Les éditions de Malte) et un journal (le Journal des vedettes).

 Je propose ici cette enquête du côté des premières chronique de Roche pour le « saisir » au moment où il débarque au Canada, encore dans l’entre-deux, à mi-chemin du regard riche et souple qu’il développera sur le Canada français et la France tout ensemble. 

Denisa-Adriana Oprea, Université de Montréal

Femmes dans la ville: solidarité et responsabilité pour pallier l’insécurité

A partir d’un corpus de romans québécois au féminin des années 1980-2010, nous nous proposons ici de rendre compte, d’une part, du rapport ambivalent que les personnages féminins entretiennent avec l’espace des métropoles postmodernes et, d’autre part, des stratégies qu’ils mettent en place afin de réduire les conflits sur lesquels repose cette ambivalence.

De fait, à la fin du deuxième millénaire – au début du troisième millénaire, après avoir longtemps été exclues ou marginalisées au sein des grandes villes, les femmes s’y fraient une place de plus en plus importante. Elles s’en approprient tant l’espace concret, physique, que, dans une moindre mesure, l’espace de la socialité et du pouvoir. Toutefois, dans les romans à l’étude, le rapport des personnages féminins à l’espace urbain repose sur une ambivalence : la ville est à la fois le lieu d’épanouissement du sujet féminin et l’endroit de l’insécurité, voire de la menace et de la violence perpétrées pour la plupart par les hommes. Pour y répondre, les femmes de Noël, Brossard ou Blais mettent en place des stratégies, telles que la solidarité et la responsabilité envers les plus démunies, qui leur permettent, dans une certaine mesure, d’enrayer l’insécurité des métropoles et de poursuivre ce que Brossard considère comme étant le processus historique d’inscription du sujet féminin et de la culture des femmes au sein de l’espace urbain – symbole de la liberté et de l’émancipation.

Jodie Robson,
Mar 22, 2011, 10:26 AM